Volkswagen ID.4 Pro 4Motion and ID.5 GTX test: Icelandic getaway

A unique land with a volcanic subsoil, Iceland can be discovered aboard two electric Volkswagens. Story of a roadtrip on ID.4 and ID.5, between bitumen and gravel tracks.

Stuck in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, between Greenland, Norway and the Faroe Islands, Iceland is a small piece of land of 102,775 km². Due to its location, right on two tectonic plates, it is known for significant volcanic and geothermal activity. Conservation of nature and energy are important for the local population: only 380,000 inhabitants, mostly clustered near the capital Reykjavik.

The island has no railways, and the inhabitants therefore rely on 12,900 km of paved roads or “gravel roads”, black gravel tracks that almost make us think of a lunar landscape. Since the road is still the primary vehicle, could an electric vehicle be suitable for this “iceland” use? We did the test on two Volkswagens, the ID.4 Pro 4Motion and ID.5 GTX.

In red and black

After arriving at Keflavik airport, in the extreme southwest, we make our way to the center of the island in the ID.5 GTX. My partner for the day, Eric, is a Swedish journalist. Like me, he quickly found his bearings aboard the electric Volkswagen, as their cabins were close together. However, this GTX version stands out with its sportier skins (touches of red and black) and its higher power.

Thanks to two motors (one on each axle), it rises to 220 kW, equivalent to 299 hp. However, this total power was delivered at peak within 30 seconds and under the conditions. The temperature of the 77 kWh battery should be between 23°C and 50°C, and the battery should be more than 88%. So it limits the thrust effect that one might expect to see in the sporty SUV style, especially since it is heavy with more than 2.2 tons. However, the Icelandic speed limit of 90 km/h and the changing surface forced us to temper our enthusiasm.

Geysers and waterfalls

At the end of this first stage, we discovered the Geysir site. This large geothermal area is full of hot springs that exceed 80 to 100 degrees. It also gave its name to the geysers that entered the common language. Volcanic activity there is intense, and onlookers flock, cameras and smartphones in hand, to capture the moment when hot water gushes from the ocher earth, several meters high.

We take the road again to the South of the island, for further exploration of the lands of Iceland. At first, we take the main paved roads, including National 30 that connects to the main axis of the island, Route 1. But before that, we plan some off-road excursions to test the abilities outside road We also take the opportunity to change the mounts, and we are entitled to a black ID.4 Pro 4Motion. This pre-production model, which is not sold in France at the moment, has a new version of the ID.Software 3.1 infotainment system. It offers several more displays on the meter screen, including average consumption, as well as a better route planner and optimized, but sometimes very intrusive, voice recognition. Occasionally, the system is triggered during a discussion between passengers, without knowing which word is the source.

As we leave, we also take the key to the fields, to the Hjálparfoss waterfalls. At this point, two rivers meet, just a few kilometers from the Hekla volcano. The magnificent landscapes are reminiscent of the universe of The Hobbit, with its green plains punctuated by black volcanic rocks and small streams. On rocky tracks, our ID.4 Pro 4Motion handles like a boss. The movements are done in silence, which does not frighten the sheep and horses on the side of the tracks. This version features the same dual-motor system as the GTX, but the combined power here is lowered to 195 kW (265 hp). The rear 150 kW main motor is constantly in use, while the front 80 kW asynchronous motor only switches on when needed: when losing grip on a wet surface, or when exiting tarmac roads. A great variable 4×4 system.

Cold sweat

After lunch at Hotel Ranga, a large ranch on the banks of the Ytri-Ranga river where salmon is caught, we make our way to the island’s capital, Reykjavik. We haven’t recharged the vehicles yet, so we’ll leave with about 50% battery, which should be enough to reach the meeting point. In the beginning, my teammate for the day adopted a normal speed, without any particular eco-driving. But the roads twist and rise even more. We see autonomy dissolve by climbing the hills. At 48 km from our point of arrival, we have about 57 km of autonomy left, and therefore a very small margin.

The atmosphere becomes tense, and the GPS indicates that we need to stop to recharge before the end of our journey. We decided to rest, then adjust our strategy. I take the wheel and try to recover the energy by “coasting” (freewheeling) and keep my speed around 70 to 80 km/h. Fortunately, the traffic was light and I didn’t bother anyone. I also use regenerative braking (mode B) to the maximum. My method pays off, because I get a lot of energy in the descents, and see my autonomy gradually increase. My teammate is smiling again.

At the end of the route, after some cold sweat, I finally arrived at the charging station in Reykjavik with a 16% battery and an announced range of 92 km. Average consumption since the start of the day amounts to 20.9 kWh/100 km according to the on-board computer, with a range of 284 km. According to this average, the ID.4 Pro 4Motion can travel 370 km on a single charge. Enough to allow for some family evacuations, or a second trip to the eastern side of the island. When will we leave?

Photos: DR and B.Defay.

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